Judith Bara is a member of the Department of Politics at Queen Mary, University of London and a Senior Research Fellow in Government at the University of Essex. A Principal Investigator with the Comparative Manifestos Project, her main research interests are the changing nature of party policy and ideology, the interface between party and citizen public policy priorities and how far governments honour their election pledges. Among her recent publications are the joint-authored (with Hans Dieter Klingemann, Andrea Volkens, Ian Budge and Michael McDonald) Mapping Policy Preferences II: Estimates for Parties, Elections and Governments in Eastern Europe, European Union and OECD 1990-2003 (Oxford University Press, 2006) and the jointly edited (with Albert Weale) Democratic Politics and Party Competition (Routledge,2006).
Analysing Parliamentary Debate with Computer Assistance
Article first published online: 20 JAN 2011
2007 The Swiss Political Science Review
Swiss Political Science Review
Volume 13, Issue 4, pages 577–605, Winter 2007
How to Cite
Bara, J., Weale, A. and Bicquelet, A. (2007), Analysing Parliamentary Debate with Computer Assistance. Swiss Political Science Review, 13: 577–605. doi: 10.1002/j.1662-6370.2007.tb00090.x
- Issue published online: 20 JAN 2011
- Article first published online: 20 JAN 2011
- Deliberative Democracy;
- Computer Assisted Content Analysis;
- Parliamentary Discourse;
The analysis of parliamentary debates is at the confluence of a number of developments in political science. What light can automated and semi-automated techniques throw on such analysis? In this paper we compare two such approaches, one semi-automated (Hamlet) and the other fully automated (Alceste). We use both approaches to identify the prominent themes in debate and to assess how far speakers who favour different positions adopt a distinct pattern of discourse. We seek to assess how far the two approaches yield convergent or divergent analyses. Selecting a second reading debate from the UK House of Commons on a private member's bill on abortion in July 1966, we are able to show similarities of analysis despite the detailed differences between the two approaches. In particular, the analysis in Hamlet al.lows identification of the extent to which individual speakers employ one type of vocabulary rather than another. Alceste is able to provide a statistical basis for the different classes of vocabulary that occur in the debate. However, the two programs rest upon quite different assumptions about the relationship between syntax and meaning, with implications for the practice of political science.